Mike Nutter always saw Parkview Field as more than just a place for the TinCaps to play. When it was erected he hoped it would become a place for the entire city and area to use.
The TinCaps president is starting to get his wish with the announcement of the Parkview Sports Medicine Baseball Series on Monday.
The event will be a 14-game showcase featuring 28 area high schools beginning April 22 with Huntington North against Carroll. It will span three weeks with the final game May 16.
“We've played a handful of (high school) games every year, but this is literally going to take it to a whole new level,” Nutter said. “All these high school coaches are excited, and the thing to remember, and the thing to brag about because of Parkview Sports Medicine, (it's) totally free to all the schools (to play at Parkview Field), never been that way before.”
The free cost thanks to the sponsorship won't be the only added touch for the high schools taking part in the series. The schools and players are getting the full professional experience when their games take place.
Every game will be broadcast on television and radio; the teams will take head shots to be used on the Parkview Field video board; and in-game promotions and entertainment will occur just like when the TinCaps play.
The schools are also being given 1,000 tickets to their games to sell as a fundraiser for their athletic departments and programs.
“They are going to be able to have the chance to play at a big stage, a professional stage,” said Eric Jenkinson, medical director of Parkview Sports Medicine. “(They) get their professional experience, you know, warm up on the field, batting cages, head shots, like the pros do.”
Discussions about the event started in August among Parkview Sports Medicine, SportONE Northeast, AWP Sports and the TinCaps. The current format has a three-year contract, but the hope is it will become an event that continues for the foreseeable future, Nutter said.
Nutter also wants this to be just the beginning of what Parkview Field can provide to the area's baseball community.
“We want youth baseball in this region to be thought of like our youth football and basketball are,” Nutter said. “We don't have a back seat to anybody in high school basketball and football, and we are cranking guys out to Division I all the time, and hopefully over the next couple years with programs like this we will be able to do the same thing.”
The prospect of that is equally enticing to the area coaches. This provides not only a chance for them to raise funds, but also something for younger players and their current teams look forward to every season.
“I think it's a great way to promote high school baseball,” Carroll head coach Dave Ginder said. “Northeast Indiana has a long history of great high school baseball, so it can do nothing but help us kind of promote that and promote high school baseball in general.”
Parkview Sports Medicine Baseball Series Schedule
(First game at 4p.m., second at 7 p.m.):
April 22: Huntington North vs. Carroll; Northrop vs. Snider
April 23: Angola vs. Fremont; East Noble vs. Central Noble
May 7: Norwell vs. Adams Central; Whitko vs. Manchester
May 8: Antwerp (Ohio) vs. Wayne Trace (Ohio); Leo vs. Woodlan
May 9: South Side vs. Bishop Dwenger; Heritage vs. New Haven
May 15: West Noble vs. Eastside; Concordia vs. North Side
May 16: Wayne vs. Bishop Luers; Blackhawk Christian vs. Canterbury